Sunday, May 29, 2011

China Post #22 Dandong Part 2

Our trip to Dandong included a visit to the museum commemorating The War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea. Once you realize that this tower that stands on top of a prominent hill in town is part of the museum it is pretty easy to find.
Just below the museum is this nice looking park.
Though we did not get a chance to visit it because we were running short on time and wanted to be able to make it to the Great Wall as well as the driver needing to be back in Dalian by 9pm. There was also a field with several war planes and military vehicles that you could climb around on and explore that we did not get a chance to check out.

The museum is interesting in that you can't really say that there was a "winner" of the Korean War or The War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, and since history is generally written by the victors there are now two different takes on the war. In the museum I did not see a mention that the US was trying to stop North Korea from taking over the South, though in US history the aid to South Korea comes after the North invaded the South.

The museum has a whole host of pretty cool and well done sculptures. The first you see upon entering the museum is this one of Mao and his North Korean counterpart along with the tourist imitating the pose.
A plaque describing the reasons for the war and ending with the Chinese and DPRK victory over the "inferior" US.
There were 2 really incredible dioramas in the museum. The first was relatively small and behind glass, though still maybe 15 feet by 6 feet. There was tons of detail and it was difficult to tell where the wall in back started.
The second was at the top of a long spiral staircase that lead up to a round platform in the middle of a larger round room. Again, a ton of detail. This time though there was a photographer up there with military uniforms so you could have your photo taken as one of the soldiers in front of the diorama.
There was a ton of information through out the museum and with Dylan I did not get to read through very much of it. I kind of wish I could get a Chinese history of the war in english so I could read through their take on the war more completely. There were a few things that I found interesting like this grainy photo of a POW showing that the US "forced" prisoners to get tattoos, apparently in Chinese?
Many of the photos presented as "proof" of claims were very grainy though. Then there were the shots of single dead insects to show that the US was using biological warfare. A claim that was rejected by the World Heath Organization but later supported by China's own investigation that may have included the confession of airmen that had been tortured.

One last thing towards the end of the museum. This map, it shows the Korean peninsula with a line at the 38th parallel and in pink, the land gained by the North and in blue, land gained by the South along with the number of square kilometers that it represents. To me, it looks like the numbers may have been fudged a bit if the map is actually to scale.
The museum is certainly worth a visit, probably 2-3 hour to get through it and actually get a real feel for the Chinese and North Korean view of the war, then some additional time to check out the grounds with the military vehicles.

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